A military drama or a glitzy family feud? You know what they say about picking your battles...

By Shirley Li
May 18, 2017 at 03:05 PM EDT
Fall TV
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Looks like The CW is living up to its own tagline and daring to defy type. If your first thought after seeing these trailers is, “Wait, these shows are airing on The CW?!” you’re not wrong to wonder: Valor lacks both caped superheroes and colorful heroines at its center, while Dynasty, a reboot of the popular 1980s soap, might be a better fit for a network that caters to older viewers familiar with the original.

Then again, it’s not a complete 180-degree turn for the network: The CW does have an impressive-looking Black Lightning and quirky Life Sentence on tap for midseason. Maybe the choice to slate its unconventional, riskier titles for the fall is a reaction to the fact that last year’s more formulaic additions didn’t pan out. Or maybe not. Either way, let the (snap) judging begin.


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Here’s my knee-jerk reaction to the trailer: “Who is this for?” Really, who is Valor, a military drama about a team of elite helicopter pilots embroiled in government secrets, for? The trailer fires its shots all over the place. There’s white-knuckle, dimly-lit action and gung-ho patriotism: We catch shaky cam scenes of characters in battle, helicopters falling out of the night sky, and, of course, a shot of a waving American flag. There are some soapy elements, too — look, a love triangle! — and tantalizing shots of shirtless cast members. And then on top of all that, there’s a dash of intriguing, albeit clunky dialogue (“It’s always classified!” “I almost lost you over there!”) pointing to a larger mystery of how these honored pilots may not be honorable after all. It culminates in what looks like a messy, potentially overcomplicated show whose target audience seems very un-CW. (Will Supergirl audiences really keep the TV on for this?)

Okay, so that may all be a bit too harsh for a four-minute trailer of a series from a writer-musician’s first network television project. I can see a compelling show under the bells and whistles: As one of the first female helicopter pilots on the team, Nora (Christine Ochoa) appears to be the series’ emotional center. She’s trying to overcome whatever happened on her last mission (something involving POWs who are very much alive), and I’d be willing to watch a show that explores her struggle to be taken seriously in a male-dominated field while dealing with crippling secrets. There just seems to be too much going on otherwise, especially for a freshman series with fierce competition in the black-ops military drama department this season. But CW president Mark Pedowitz did tell audiences at the network’s upfronts presentation Friday morning that he had been pushing to bring a military drama to the CW for seven years. So if this is the one that finally made the grade, maybe there’s some firepower that simply didn’t come across in the teaser. I’m still going to proceed with caution on this one, though.


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Well, would you look at that. Maybe The CW was right to bet on a reboot of a show that ended nearly three decades ago. This modern take on Dynasty comes from The O.C. and Gossip Girl masterminds Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who have teamed with with the original’s creators Esther and Richard Alan Shapiro, and the trailer’s myriad histrionics just might make it the perfect match for Riverdale fans hoping for a double dose of over-the-top family drama on Wednesday nights. The trailer’s glitzy and glamorous and giddily melodramatic, and if there’s anyone who can bring Dynasty back without Aaron Spelling (or the ’80s hair), it’s Schwartz and Savage.

But aside from that, the teaser proves promising in a few more ways: Elizabeth Gillies (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll) is convincingly headstrong so far as Fallon Carrington, and Nathalie Kelley (of UnREAL‘s first season, as well as the third Fast and the Furious — remember Tokyo Drift?) is aptly inscrutable as the Carrington matriach-to-be, Cristal Jennings. And while the rest of the cast don’t leave as much of an impression (except for Alan Dale, because Alan Dale’s playing yet another Alan Dale type, and soap vet Grant Show as Blake), these women’s icy glares and pursed lips have me hooked. By the time their claws are unsheathed in the trailer for that wedding-day catfight, I’ve already decided I’ll be checking out the pilot as soon as it’s available.

My only concern is in the way the dialogue translates to this modern setting. Hearing uber-sudsy lines like “Bite me, Cristal,” “This is war,” and “Family dynasties flow through blood; wives just come and go,” make me feel like I need to rinse myself off under Niagara Falls or something. What’s more, the notion of watching the 1 percent of the 1 percent — as the trailer describes them — tearing each other apart may not turn out to be all that appetizing, given how the drama in the current 1-percent-held White House already tops anything written for television. But, hey, we’ll have to wait until fall to see Dynasty; who knows how much things will have changed by then? In the meantime, between Valor and Dynasty, I’m picking the latter battle.

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